Rising rental rates in Alameda have spawned a controversy that began early last year and have moved Alameda tenants to organize as the Alameda Renters Coalition to call for rent control and a rent increase moratorium.
Last year, Alameda City Council, under then-Mayor Gilmore’s leadership, deferred action on a study of the impact of rising rental rates within the city, opting instead for a mediated process between landlords and tenants, resulting in some proposed changes to the existing rent review ordinance.
In June of this year, Alameda City Council, under Mayor Trish Spencer, approved a $32,000 contract with BAE Urban Economics, giving that firm the go-ahead to conduct a study of the impact of rising rents, with results possibly by the end of this year, or early in 2016.
In the interim, Action Alameda News has compiled a dataset of rent increases for 2015, based on tenant-reported data through a survey, and tenant-reported data gathered from Rental Increase Complaint forms for the first eight months of the year, obtained from the City of Alameda through a public records request.
The first results of an analysis of that data collected to date are presented here.
It’s important to note that the only factor under study is the reported amount of rent increases noticed by landlords, as reported by tenants.
Some other notes:
- Alameda has an estimated 17,000 rental units; the totality of data reported here does not represent a statistical sample of all units.
- That being said, data from Rent Increase Complaint forms is a statistically representative sample of reported increases through the Rent Review Advisory Committee, for the first eight months of the year
- Two-bedroom units are represented the most heavily in the data, followed by one-bedroom units. Only two single-family-homes and one studio unit are represented.
- The data from Rental Increase Complaint forms represents only the initial reported increase by the tenant, and not any actual increases resulting from Rent Review Advisory Committee hearings.
- Where possible, reported rent increases were validated by reviewing landlord notices submitted with the report of a rent increase. Some notices were available with the rental increase complaint forms, but, to date, no tenants that reported an increase through Action Alameda News’ survey have followed up with copies of rent increase notice forms as requested.
Units on Crolls Garden Court, and at 470 Central Avenue and 2228 Encinal Avenue, generated the most rental increase complaint forms so far in 2015, logging 6, 15 and 5, complaints, respectively. (All of those complaints are summarized in the table.)
By Unit Type
Averaging all reported increases shows a 12 percent average reported rent increase for 2015.
One-bedroom units saw an average 10 percent increase, two-bedroom units saw an average 12 percent increase, and the two single-family-home units averaged a 33 percent increase, inflated by a single reported 55 percent rent increase for a property on Buena Vista, in the East end.
The single studio unit reported a nine percent increase.
A tenant on Central Avenue filed a rental increase complaint form reporting a 43 percent increase in rent, based on new rent amount of $2,149 for a month-to-month lease. The landlord had also offered a 12 month lease at $1,635, which is the data used in this analysis.
Likewise, a tenant at 1100 Pacific Marina reported a 26 percent increase based on a new month-to-month rent of $4,505; this analysis used the new 12 month lease rent amount of $3,755 (a five percent increase) as documented in the landlord’s notice of rent increase.
The highest reported increase for a two-bedroom unit was 31 percent; the lowest was three percent.
The highest reported increase for a one-bedroom unit was 11 percent; the lowest was two percent.
One Alameda renter, a divorced mother with two teenagers e-mailed her rent history to Action Alameda News, documenting a $300/month rent increase (19 percent total, four percent per year) from August 2010 to August 2015.
In a June 3rd letter to the City of Alameda, a BAE Urban Economics representative wrote, “According to RealFacts, a private data vendor that tracks rental projects with 50 units or more, Alameda had an average market rent of $2,045 in Q1 2015, placing it #9 among the 13 cities in Alameda County that are tracked by RealFacts.
“In terms of Year over Year average rent growth, Alameda registered a 13% increase, making it the 9th fastest rising among Alameda County’s cities…”
However, RealFacts data presented by BAE Urban Economics presented to the City of Alameda in any report on the state of the rental market is unlikely to satisfy tenants.
Angela Hockabout of the Alameda Renters Coalition was dismissive of RealFacts data when brought forth this summer by landlord Doug Smith.
Action Alameda News will continue to collect data through the rent increase survey and report on this issue.
After some discussion, Debbie Potter of the City of Alameda agreed to review the data collected to date in some detail.